Shipping container restaurant in Newbiggin gets planning approval despite concerns about location

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Controversial plans for a two-storey shipping container café and restaurant have been approved by councillors despite concerns over the development.

Permission was sought from Northumberland County Council to build the restaurant on the site of the former public toilet block on High Street in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. The former toilet block next to the holiday park was demolished in 2020.

The building comprises of three shipping containers clad in timber with indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant, which will be named TapaShack, will serve Mediterranean themed dishes.

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Residents packed Wednesday, February 14’s meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Planning Committee to show their opposition.

A computer-generated image of how the restaurant will look once built. (Photo by TapaShack)A computer-generated image of how the restaurant will look once built. (Photo by TapaShack)
A computer-generated image of how the restaurant will look once built. (Photo by TapaShack)

While 23 letters of objection were received by Northumberland County Council, there were also 25 letters of support. Objections centred around the development looking “out of place” as well as concerns over parking and the impact on the conservation area.

Supportive comments recognised the employment and tourism benefits the development would bring. Newbiggin by the Sea Town Council said it welcomed new businesses that “support the economy and sustainability of the town” but added it was concerned about the “busy turning head” and a lack of pedestrian access.

College ward councillor Mark Purvis said: “It is a great idea and I think it will be great for Newbiggin, but I think it is in the wrong place. If you could put it somewhere else I think it would be great.

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“If I was a resident I would not want to live next to it. Newbiggin needs something like this, people would come from all over to see this concept, but not there.”

But the plans were recommended for approval by council officers, and Cllr Purvis’ colleagues were unable to find a planning reason to refuse them.

Cllr Caroline Ball said: “This application has me in absolute turmoil. I welcome new businesses to the area and I welcome employment.

“I would use a restaurant like this but I do think there is a number of issues around the planning application, particularly around highways. I see very little to be able to stop this.

“I worry that it is going to go to appeal and be approved anyway and cost the taxpayer money. My heart is saying it is in the wrong place."

The plans were approved by eight votes to four.